MEDINA — More people rode Medina County Public Transit in 2017-18, painting a picture of how employment and independence are driving local transportation trends.
Transit Director Shannon Rine said ridership increased in 2018 by about 5,500 riders from the year before.
He said on-demand ridership for 2018 was 37,823 passengers, up from 2017’s 34,090 passengers.
In addition, fixed loop ridership for 2018 was 39,213, up from 2017’s 37,458.
Overall, combining both programs, 77,036 riders took public transportation in 2018. That’s an increase from 2017’s 71,548 riders.
Rine said he thinks the increase in ridership can be traced to economic growth in Medina County.
“More people are using our service to go to work,” he said Thursday. “Unemployment is down. There are more destinations.”
Rine said nationally people use public transit as a first or second means of transportation as a way to get to work.
In Medina County, riders can use buses to get to places of employment found along fixed routes or travel to specific locations through the on-demand service if they preschedule.
Jennie Fisher, of Brunswick, used the county’s bus service Thursday for an appointment at the Medina County Human Services Center, 246 Northland Drive, Medina.
“I don’t have a car,” she said. “Otherwise, I’d drive myself. I can’t wait until I get a car.”
Fisher said once she gets a car, she will become more independent.
Samantha Morrow, of Valley City, said she is in the same boat.
“Both of my parents work a lot,” she said. “I don’t want to inconvenience them. It’s a relief for them knowing I can get a ride. (The MCPT) is really helpful.”
Bus driver Denise Storms said many of her riders let her know the importance of the county’s transit system.
“A lot of people don’t know what they’d do without the bus service,” she said.
Rine said 2019 goals for the agency, which operates on a yearly budget of about $1.8 million, include enhancing the MCPT’s fixed routes, providing more services for riders and increasing efficiencies for its on-demand service.
MCPT provides fixed routes that run Monday through Saturday on a time schedule and include the green and white loops around Medina, both a northern and southern Brunswick route and a Wadsworth route.
MCPT will also provide service to any location within Medina County and upon availability a connecting service to Summit County and Cuyahoga County by special arrangement.
The cost to ride the bus varies from $1.50 for one-way fares, $4 for all day passes and 75 cents for the disabled and senior citizen riders.
Many members of the Medina County Office for Older Adults get vouchers to ride for free or at a reduced rate. Also, starting last year, Medina County veterans can ride anywhere in the county for free.
Rine said he sees great things on the horizon for Medina County’s bus service, especially with a strong economy.
“It’s going to be a great year for transit,” he said. “I see lots of opportunities for good things.”
On the job for about a month, Rine said he has begun tracking numbers and acquiring demographics for the riders that use MCPT.
Rine, whose first day was Dec. 26, comes to Medina County from Cleveland Lakefront Lines Coach USA, where he was the general manager/safety director for the last two years. Locally, he heads an organization with 23 vehicles and 45 drivers, including 14 full-time positions and will earn about $72,000 annually.
“I’m blessed,” he said. “I can’t put it any other way. We have a great facility, a great team and great drivers.”
For more information, visit medinacountytransit.org.